Ethiopia civil war: Tigray hospital running out of food for starving children

Three-month old Surafeal Mearig lies helpless at the biggest hospital in Ethiopia’s war-torn region of Tigray.

His eyes are wide open, and his ribs press against his thin-wrinkled skin. He is among many children suffering from malnutrition because of the 14-month civil war that has also spread to the neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions.

Surafeal’s paediatrician at the Ayder Referral Hospital in Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, told Reuters news agency that he weighs 2.3kg, one kilogramme less than he did at birth.

According to medical notes published by the hospital’s staff, his mother’s milk has dried up and his parents, now both unemployed, cannot afford formula milk.

Crucially, staff at the hospital say they are running out of therapeutic foods to treat children like Surafeal.

“It is now six months since any supply has come here from Addis Ababa [the federal capital],” a doctor at the hospital told the BBC on condition of anonymity as he feared his family could be targeted.

“We’ve almost finished what we had since our last supply arrived in June. Everything is running out,” he added.

This week medical personnel at Ayder Hospital presented a report to international aid agencies asking for help.

Surafeal was one of the case studies they referred to.

Surafeal Mearig

The medics said more than 40% of children aged under five years who come to the hospital are malnourished – double the 2019 rate.

Bone thin, four-year-old Medhaniye also lies in a hospital bed, a feeding tube connected through his nose.

His medical report says he started suffering from malnutrition after soldiers attacked his family home slaughtering their ox, destroying and looting property.

The BBC is unable to independently verify the details in the doctors’ report as much of Tigray has been under a communications blackout since November 2020 when the conflict broke out between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which is in control of much of the region, and the federal government. Journalists have also not been able to visit Tigray since July.

In their report the doctors blame a six-month “blockade” by federal forces and their allies for the severe shortage of medicines and equipment which they say are leading to avoidable deaths.

“Since the region was besieged, another 35 patients have lost their lives due to dialysis service absence,” the report says.

Doctors say they have been forced to stop bleeding with their bare hands, wash and reuse gloves or make their own disinfectant fluids.

In his response, government spokesman Legesse Tulu told the BBC the report seemed to “seeking to build a narrative” for the TPLF and “mimics” its claims of a blockade on Tigray.

“From the government side, there is no deliberate embargo in Tigray that damages our people,” he said.

But since the war began, aid agencies have complained about not being able to get much aid into Tigray.

A Togoga injured residents, a village about 20km west of Mekele, where an alleged airstrike hit a market leaving an unknown number of casualties, receives medical treatments at the Ayder referral hospital in Mekele, the capital of Tigray region, Ethiopia, on June 23, 2021
Civilians have been killed or wounded in airstrikes by the Ethiopian military

According to the latest report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) on 30 December, aid convoys have not reached Tigray since mid-December because of bureaucratic delays and insecurity.

The World Food Programme estimates that 100 trucks carrying aid need to reach Tigray each week to meet the needs of more than five million people but according to Ocha only 12% of the supplies needed have made it into the region.

In response to queries about aid deliveries Mr Legesse said: “Over 840 of the 1,100 vehicles providing food and medicine to Tigray have yet to be returned. They are suspected of being used by the TPLF to carry illegal recruits, soldiers and military supplies.”

The TPLF has denied claims it is hampering aid assistance, but its forces have also been accused of looting aid stores and health facilities in areas it occupied in Amhara and Afar.

The doctor at Ayder Hospital told the BBC that even the families of staff were being affected by the crisis.

“My child has appendicitis and cannot get treatment,” he said.

And as the shortages continue he says they will have no choice but to stop all surgery by next week.

“We don’t have supplies. That’s the point we’ve reached now, which is why we wanted to let the world know. Most hospitals are closing.”

The meaning of Christmas and how it is celebrated by Ghanaians

Christians in Ghana have joined their counterparts across the globe to celebrate Christmas, an annual festival to remember the birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whose teachings form the basis of their faith.

In his Christmas message to the nation, President Akufo-Addo urged celebrants to observe the COVID-19 hygiene and safety protocols to contain the spread of the virus, especially the Omicron variant.

Drivers should also observe road traffic regulations to prevent road crashes.

Christmas, which means “Mass on Christ’s Day or Christ-mass”, is observed on December 25 as a religious, cultural, and secular celebration among billions of people.

Though the activities vary across the world, there are common themes on Salvation, Hope, Giving, Peace, Love, Light, and Joy, to reflect the teachings and nature of Christ Jesus.

Some historians trace the origin of the celebration on December 25, to the 4th Century AD, under Pope Julius I of the Roman Catholic Church.

In Ghana, the holiday is commonly marked with church services, family get-togethers, exchange of gifts, donations to the needy, parties, concerts, and other entertaining events.

Some celebrants decorate their homes, offices, and communities with symbolic ornaments, such as evergreen trees, holly, candle lights, fir wreaths, bells, balloons, and twinkle lights, to reflect their high spirits.

The colours of Christmas are typically green and red, while Santa Claus plays a cardinal role to highlight the essence of giving.

Many have taken to social media to share customised and common goodwill messages, expressing their contentment for being part of the season and appreciating God and their loved ones for making that possible.

According to information sourced from crosswalk.com, the “Evergreen Tree” is a symbol of eternal life; “Candlelights” represent a picture that Christ is the Light of the world; “Holly” speaks of the thorns in the crown of Christ, while Red” as a colour of Christmas, speaks of Christ’s blood and death.

The “Gifts” are a reminder of the gifts of the Magi to the Baby Jesus.

Each of them speaks to a component of His incarnation – Majesty in Life; Bitterest Agony in Death; and He, as God’s perfect gift to humanity.

The “Bells” are associated with ringing out news, or Christ being the good news for Christians. Christmas services and activities are mostly enjoyed with Carols, such as the “Silent Night”; “Mary’s Boy Child”; “Oh Christmas Tree; “Oh Holy Night”; “The First Noel”, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”; and “Joy to the World.”

Choral music, scripture readings on the story of the Messiah, choreography, and the reenactment of the nativity are special features across the world.

Russian Priest Who Adopted And Raped 70 Children Bags 21 Years Imprisonment

01A Russian court has sentenced a former Orthodox priest to 21 years in prison for adopting 70 children and committing a number of rape and abuse crimes against them.

Nikolai Stremsky, the man with Russia’s “biggest family” who was awarded the national Order of Parental Glory, has been found guilty of raping multiple children and other violent offenses in his parish in the Urals region of southwest Russia.

From the early 1990s, as an abbot in the village of Saraktash, Stremsky and his wife maintained a foster home, adopting children from local orphanages. The majority of the 70 children they adopted have grown up.’

Stremsky was detained in 2019 and is being probed for crimes against seven kids, despite the fact that he called the claims against him slanderous at the time.

On Friday, December 24, a court in Saraktash sentenced Stremsky to a penitentiary colony and barred him from working with children for the next 20 years, as well as stripping him of his national parenting honor. He was also barred from becoming a priest.

According to the Russian state news agency TASS, one of Stremsky’s grown-up adoptive children and her spouse were handed suspended sentences in 2020 for illegally restricting the freedom of kids while they lived with him.

Source; Sradio5.com

Some families have to borrow to send their Wards to school

The new UNESCO 2021/2 Global Education Monitoring Report presented on Sunday at the RewirEd Forum in Dubai shows that, globally, one in six families saves to pay school fees, while 8% of families (or one in twelve) in low- and middle-income countries have to borrow money to pay for their children to go to school.

In some countries such as Uganda, Haiti, Kenya, and the Philippines, 30% or more of families have to borrow to afford their children’s education. The report calls for governments to keep to their promise of providing 1 year of pre-primary and 12 years of primary and secondary education free for all

New data show that the costs of education are falling on households disproportionately in the poorest countries. In low- and lower-middle-income countries, households cover 39% of the cost of education with the government covering the remainder, compared to only 16% in high-income countries. In Ghana, two-thirds of the total cost of education is picked up by households, while one-third is covered by governments.

Public education still has many hidden costs. About one-third of household education expenditure in low- and middle-income countries comes from households with children in public schools, rising to 51% in Ghana.

Analysis of about 100 low- and middle-income countries between 2009 and 2020 found that, on average, 3.2% of households’ financial outgoings were being spent on education. In Ghana, the share of education spending is not only the world’s largest but also increased from 8.9% in 2005/06 to 13.1% in 2016/17. Much of the cost comes from school uniforms and other school supplies; these accounted for almost two-fifths of the amount households were spending on education in 15 low and middle-income countries.

‘We have underestimated just how much families are still paying for education when according to governments it should be free’, said Manos Antoninus, Director of the Global Education Monitoring Report. ‘On top of this, the impact of COVID-19 has squeezed family budgets further. Many simply can’t afford to pay for school costs as a result. Governments must look closer at the amount that families are paying. They must focus on ensuring that education is free at the point of access – and that the poorest aren’t priced out of good quality education.”

The GEM Report warns that, without better regulations, private education choices, such as private schools, or private supplementary tuition, are pushing up these costs for households. If 3.2% of households’ outgoings are being spent on education globally on average, that rises to 6% in countries with a high percentage of private schools, such as Haiti and Lebanon, and in other sub-Saharan African countries, including Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia. The costs make some education opportunities inaccessible for the poor. In Ghana, private early education and childcare provision costs 6% of annual consumption for the richest and 17% for the poorest.

Many households are also paying for private supplementary tuition, particularly during school closures – something many of the poorest cannot afford. In Myanmar, 42% of the amount households were spending on education was spent on tutoring. Currently, however, around half of countries do not regulate the practice at all.

Today, less than three-quarters of countries are regulating the number of fees that are charged by private schools, which contribute to the burden carried by households. Most private secondary schools receive at least 80% of their revenue from fees in 28 out of 51 upper-middle- and high-income education systems. In low- and lower-middle-income countries, poor parents employ a variety of strategies to cope with private school expenses. The poorest parents in Kenya and other low- and lower-middle-income countries often have to resort to schools that are unregistered and cheaper but are likely to have poor facilities and offer lower-quality instruction.

Recommendations:

Increase efforts to guarantee free, publicly funded access to a year of pre-primary and 12 years of primary and secondary education. Governments need to monitor out-of-pocket education spending with household income and expenditure surveys. Formal payments are often the only ones to which governments pay attention.

They often turn their eyes away from other less well-documented costs that increase inequality, such as private supplementary tuition. The effectiveness of policies that aim to target resources at disadvantaged learners needs to be evaluated and not assumed.

Strengthen government capacity to monitor and enforce regulations. Governments need to build a relationship of trust with non-state providers, encouraging them to register, eliminating arbitrariness in rules, and communicating the right incentives for them to run their schools effectively for learners’ benefit.

Ancient human discoveries dominated 2021. Here’s what we learned

Sign up for CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. Explore the universe with news on fascinating discoveries, scientific advancements and more.

(CNN)The human story — where we come from and how we evolved — got a new chapter in 2021.Thanks to new fossil finds and analysis of ancient DNA preserved in teeth, bones and cave dirt, scientists have unearthed startling revelations about our Homo sapien forebears, and other humans that existed before — and in some cases, alongside us.Here are six of this year’s most ground-breaking discoveries in human prehistory that are shaping the family tree in fascinating and unexpected ways.

The first Americans

The footprints are thought to be made by children.Footprints made in muddy earth at the edge of a wetland, in what’s now New Mexico, look like they could have been made yesterday.But they weren’t. The discovery that the prints were pressed into the ground between 21,000 to 23,000 years ago has dramatically pushed back the history of humans in the Americas, the last continent to be settled by humans.Until recently, the commonly held view was that people ventured into North America from Asia via Beringia, a land bridge that once connected the two continents, at the end of the ice age around 13,000 years ago.The tracks, thought to have been made by children, were made at a time when many scientists think that massive ice sheets sealed off human passage into North America, indicating that humans were there even earlier.

Dragon man

Dragon man is the latest addition to the human family tree.Described as the most important fossil discovery in 50 years, a cranium, which was hidden at the bottom of a well in northeastern China for more than 80 years, could represent a completely new type of human.The well-preserved skullcap, found in the Chinese city of Harbin, is between 138,000 and 309,000 years old, according to geochemical analysis. It combines primitive features, such as a broad nose and low brow and braincase, with those that are more similar to Homo sapiens, including flat and delicate cheekbones.Researchers named the new hominin Homo longi, which is derived from Heilongjiang, or Black Dragon River, the province where the cranium was found. Colloquially, he’s become known as Dragon Man since the discovery was made public in June.The hope is to extract DNA or other genetic material from the fossil to find out more about Dragon Man, particularly whether he may be a representative of the Denisovans, a little-known and enigmatic human population. Watch this space in 2022.

Cave dirt

For centuries, archaeologists have searched caves for teeth, bones and tools in the hope of piecing together how our ancestors lived and what they looked like.Now, new techniques to capture DNA preserved in cave sediment are allowing scientists to learn about our early relatives without ever having to find fossils — just the dirt from the caves where they hung out.In 2021, human nuclear DNA, which contains more detailed information than mitochondrial DNA, was gleaned from cave dirt for the first time, revealing details about the lives of Neanderthals. Similar techniques are shedding light on extinct animals like woolly mammoths. Science magazine named it one of their 2021 breakthroughs.“Screening sediment for DNA is a game changer for us. It will direct us to the right places, save us time and a lot of money,” said Katerina Douka, an assistant professor of archaeological science at the department of evolutionary anthropology at the University of Vienna and a research associate at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany.

Earliest fashion

In “The Flintstones,” Fred and Betty are clothed in furs — but archaeological evidence of what our Stone Age ancestors actually wore and how they made clothes is thin.Fur, leather and other organic materials generally aren’t preserved, especially beyond 100,000 years ago.However, researchers say 62 bone tools used to process and smooth animal skins found in a cave in Morocco may be some of the earliest proxy evidence for clothing in the archaeological record. The tools are between 90,000 and 120,000 years old and were used to work leather — specifically to remove connective tissue. Similar bone tools are still used by some leather workers today.

Neanderthal brains

Neanderthal-ized brain organoids (left) look very different than modern human brain organoids (right). Neanderthal-ized brain organoids (left) look very different than modern human brain organoids (right).Brain matter doesn’t preserve well in the fossil record, making it impossible to know how modern human brains differ from our long-extinct ancestors, the Neanderthals.From fossilized skulls we know that their brains were big — slightly bigger than ours, in fact — but they tell us little about their neurology and development.Scientists from the University of California San Diego came up with an exciting way to begin to answer this question. They have created blobs of brain tissue genetically modified to carry a gene that belonged to Neanderthals and other archaic hominins, but not Homo sapiens.While the research is at a very early stage, the researchers found that the Neanderthalized brain organoids produced significant changes in how the brain is organized and wired.

The oldest story ever told?

A close-up of one of the three warty pigs. A close-up of one of the three warty pigs.Finally, take a minute to marvel at the oldest known figurative rock art created by humans, which was revealed to the world in January.

Painted in red ocher in limestone caves on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, it features an endearing warty pig engaged in a fight or some other interaction with two others.It’s at least 45,000 years old and makes these prehistoric Picassos the first known storytellers. It feels fitting that we still tell a tale about three little pigs today.

UK News

Queen’s Christmas Speech 2021: Time and how to watch

Everything you need to know

Queen Elizabeth II will deliver her 69th Christmas address to the United Kingdom on December 25, 2021, which remains a tradition to this day and is usually broadcasted after lunch.

In last year’s Christmas address, with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the whole world, the Queen looked to reassure those struggling without friends and family that they are “not alone”.

The Queen highlighted acts of kindness, noting that the pandemic has in some ways “brought us closer” together, while she also paid homage to NHS staff for their herculean efforts.

It is expected that the Queen’s speech will this year stress the importance of family after another difficult 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while she is also expected to comment on the loss of her husband, Prince Philip, as she spends her first Christmas without him following their 73 years of marriage.

The Queen’s message is likely to have been recorded in the middle of December, as she offers some reflections on the year 2021.

What date is the Queen’s speech?

The Queen’s speech will be aired on Christmas Day, which is December 25 and this year falls on a Saturday.

You will be able to watch the Queen’s speech on BBC One, ITV, Sky One and Sky News, while you can listen it on BBC Radio 4.

Additionally, you will be able to watch it online via the Royal Family’s YouTube channel and their Facebook page.

What time is the Queen’s speech on TV?

Queen Elizabeth II will deliver her 69th Christmas address to the United Kingdom on December 25, 2021, which remains a tradition to this day and is usually broadcasted after lunch.

In last year’s Christmas address, with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the whole world, the Queen looked to reassure those struggling without friends and family that they are “not alone”.

The Queen highlighted acts of kindness, noting that the pandemic has in some ways “brought us closer” together, while she also paid homage to NHS staff for their herculean efforts.

It is expected that the Queen’s speech will this year stress the importance of family after another difficult 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while she is also expected to comment on the loss of her husband, Prince Philip, as she spends her first Christmas without him following their 73 years of marriage.ADVERTISING

The Queen’s message is likely to have been recorded in the middle of December, as she offers some reflections on the year 2021.

What date is the Queen’s speech?

The Queen’s speech will be aired on Christmas Day, which is December 25 and this year falls on a Saturday.

You will be able to watch the Queen’s speech on BBC One, ITV, Sky One and Sky News, while you can listen it on BBC Radio 4.

Additionally, you will be able to watch it online via the Royal Family’s YouTube channel and their Facebook page.

What time is the Queen’s speech on TV?

MORE in MARCADennis Rodman’s latest scandal: Taken off flight by police for not wearing mask | MarcaMarcaWanda Nara romanticises about life with ex Maxi Lopez in midst of Icardi divorce | MarcaMarca

Usually, the Queen’s speech will be aired at 3pm on Christmas Day, and it typically lasts around 10 minutes.

What will the Queen talk about?

While the theme has not yet been revealed for this year’s Queen’s speech, she is expected to touch on the impact of the pandemic, make some personal reflections and pay homage to the late Prince Philip.

Harry and Meghan Christmas card 2021: Why is this Holiday card so important to the couple’s fans?

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex show the face of their daughter Lilibet

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry shared a Christmas card Thursday alongside their sons Archie and Lilibet Diana.

It is the first time that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex show the face of the little girl, who was born on June 4 in California.

The photo also stars Lili’s big brother, 2-year-old Archie Harrison.

“This year, 2021, we welcomed our daughter, Lilibet, to the world. Archie made us a ‘Mama’ and a ‘Papa’, and Lili made us a family. As we look forward to 2022, we have made donations on your behalf to several organizations that honor and protect families – from those being relocated from Afghanistan, to American families in need of paid parental leave.”

The Christmas card was first shared with Team Rubicon, a veteran-led organization with which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex previously supported.

This year, 2021, we welcomed our daughter, Lilibet, to the world. Archie made us a ‘Mama’ and a ‘Papa’, and Lili made us a family.

Lilibet’s first photo

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex had the opportunity to connect with Team Rubicon earlier this year during their visit to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst,” a spokesperson for the couple said in a statement.

Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, the second daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, was born June 4 in Santa Barbara, California, and is eighth in line to the throne.

Lilibet was born at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and was named after the Queen’s childhood nickname, while her middle name, Diana, was in tribute to Harry’s late mother.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle finally shared the first photo of their daughter Lilibet Diana, six months after her birth.

Amazon AWS outage: Why are Disney+, Alexa, Tinder and many more not working?

Websites and applications that use Amazon Web Services were knocked offiline

Amazon’s AWS cloud servers suffered problems this morning, causing some services such as Disney+, Kindle, Tinder, and Roku, among others, to take down.

Amazon has confirmed the outage on its official status page, saying it is working on a fix.

According to user reports, the services affected by the AWS outage are following:

  • Amazon
  • Amazon Prime Music
  • League of Legends
  • Ring
  • Disney+
  • Amazon Alexa
  • Prime Video
  • Instacart
  • Venmo
  • Robinhood

The problems are focused on the US-EAST-1 AWS region hosted in Virginia, so users elsewhere may not see as many issues. It could manifest as slightly slower loading while the network reroutes your requests somewhere else.

Amazon’s official update

“We are experiencing API and console issues in the US-EAST-1 Region. We have identified root cause and we are actively working towards recovery. This issue is affecting the global console landing page, which is also hosted in US-EAST-1”, Amazon said.

With more and more data and services moving online amid a growing network of computer centers across the United States and the world, problems could continue due to mechanical failures.

“Customers may be able to access region-specific consoles going to https://console.aws.amazon.com/. So, to access the US-WEST-2 console, try https://us-west-2.console.aws.amazon.com/”, the company added.

Websites and applications that use Amazon Web Services were knocked offline.

Kim Porter trial: Porter found guilty of two counts of manslaughter Judge Regina Chu ordered Potter held without bail

Kim Potter, the former Minnesota police officer who mistakenly drew her handgun instead of her Taser during a traffic stop in April in which she fatally shot Daunte Wright, has been found guilty.

The jury deliberated for four days before finding the former Brooklyn Center officer guilty of first- and second-degree murder.

Potter, 49, faces about seven years in prison on the most severe charge, according to state sentencing guidelines. But prosecutors said they would seek a longer sentence.

Judge Regina Chu ordered Potter held without bail, and scheduled her sentencing for February 18.

Potter winced when the verdict was read but otherwise appeared not to react. A short while later, she was handcuffed and taken into custody pending sentencing.

Potter’s lawyers spoke out against her detention without bail, saying she doesn’t plan to go anywhere.

“Her remorse and regret over the incident are overwhelming,” said Potter’s attorney, Paul Engh. “She is not a public menace at all.”

Katie Bryant, Wright’s mother, said after the trial that she felt “every single emotion that you could imagine” as the verdict was read. “I kind of let out a yelp, because it was built up in the anticipation of what was to come,” she said.

The deadly confrontation on April 11 began when Potter, together with Anthony Luckey, a new officer she was training that day, pulled over Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, for having expired license tabs and a dangling air freshener on his rearview mirror – an infraction in Minnesota.

Ghana wins case in Norway

The Oslo District Court, presided over by Justice Dagfinn Gronvik, has dismissed an action instituted by Messrs Jongsbru AS, sellers of a property identified by Ghana for use as a Chancery in Oslo, Norway in 2018.

The court, after a trial, held that none of Ghana’s representatives in the transaction, as well as Ghana’s lawyer at the time of the transaction, had authority to conclude a binding agreement between Ghana and the sellers and, therefore, “Ghana will be acquitted of the lawsuit by Jongsbru AS”.

It awarded procedural costs in the sum of one million, seven hundred Norwegian Kronner in favour of Ghana to be paid by Jongsbru.

Facts of case

In 2018, Ghana decided to establish an embassy in Norway, for which Parliament approved the grant of funds for the establishment of the embassy, as well as other missions around the world.

A delegation of four Ghanaian officials was appointed to go to Norway and carry out the necessary practical and administrative preparations for the establishment of the embassy.

Among the preparations to be made was the acquisition of a Chancery Building, either by purchase or lease.

The Ghanaian delegation identified a number of properties, including Sigyns Gate 3 at Frogner in Oslo, the property which became the subject matter of the litigation in the District Court of Norway.

For legal assistance, Ghana hired a lawyer, Mikkel Vislie, from the Law Firm of Selmer.

Transaction conditions

On November 22, 2018, Ghana received an offer from Jongsbru to buy the property for 100 million Norwegian Kronner, with a deadline of seven days.

Ghana’s Charge d’Affaires, Regina Appiah-Sam, responded to Jongsbru’s offer in those terms, accepting the offer on behalf of the government but with conditions.

Among the conditions set by the charge d’affaires listed as that it would be a condition for the acceptance of the offer and the final contract.

Also, the building must be without significant defects, while the renovation work had to be performed and completed in a satisfactory manner.

Subsequent to due certification by Ghana’s appointed valuers that the building was without significant defects and that the renovation works on same had been completed and performed in a satisfactory manner, Ghana pulled out of the transaction.

Unhappy with Ghana’s decision to withdraw from the transaction, Jongsbru AS sued the Government of Ghana in the Oslo District Court, claiming sums totalling about seventy-eight million Norwegian Kroner for breach of contract, loss of profits, interest and costs of litigation.

A mediation process to resolve the dispute held in Oslo and presided over by a panel of three judges of the District Court, Oslo, in September 2021 failed to reach a settlement, as the Ghanaian team, led by Ghana’s Attorney-General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, did not accept the amount of about 30 million Norwegian Kronner proposed by Jongsbru as acceptable for a settlement of the dispute.

Trial, ruling

With an unsuccessful mediation to resolve the issue, the matter proceeded for trial, at which Ghana called four witnesses, made up of its Ambassador to Norway, Jennifer Lartey; the Charge d’Affaires at the time of the transaction, Mrs Appiah-Sam; the Deputy Head of Mission in Norway, Charles Marfo, and the Director of the Legal Directorate at the Ministry of Finance, Mrs Mangowa Ghanney.

The Oslo District Court, in its judgement on December 16, 2021, said the binding competence lay with Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, in accordance with Section 20 of the State Property and Contracts Act of 1960.

Under Ghana’s law, the Procurement Board must agree on the purchase of the property and the application of funds must also be approved of by the Minister of Finance, before the Minister of Foreign Affairs must either personally execute the agreement for the purchase of the property or authorise another competent person by a power of attorney to execute the agreement.

The court found that neither the charge d’affaires of Ghana at the time, Mrs Appiah-Sam, nor Ghana’s lawyer, Mikkel Visllie, had authority to enter into the agreement on behalf of Ghana.

“There was thus no valid or binding agreement between the sellers of the property and Ghana. In the circumstances, Ghana will be fully cleared of any liability to Jongsbru arising from the transaction and awarded procedural costs of one million, seven hundred Norwegian Kronner,” the judgement ruled.

Costs

The court rather ordered lawyer Vislie, who acted for Ghana, and his insurance company, Tryg Forsikring, to pay to Jongsbru the sum of thirty-seven million, seven hundred and twelve thousand, nine hundred and four Norwegian Kronner as compensation.

Jongsbru convinced the court that the lawyer was fully responsible for the positive contractual interest, in accordance with the Contracts Act of Norway, and that the company did not understand and could not have reasonably understood that the lawyer did not have authorisation to act.

The court, in its ruling, was of the view that there was a particular reason for trusting lawyers who acted on behalf of clients, thus the lawyer who acted on behalf of Ghana should be held liable for the litigation.

“The lawyer owes a duty to be vigilant and safeguard the best interests of the client. Vislie was responsible for ensuring that Ghana had issued a power of attorney or not.

“The court found that the lawyer did not have any reasonable excuse for not ensuring that there was a power of attorney signed by Ghana before purporting to convey acceptance of the offer by Jongsbru,” it concluded in its ruling to surcharge the legal representative of Ghana in the foiled deal.